I see part of my role as a senior leader as a developer of other leaders. In church terms, as much as I am called to make disciples, I am called to disciple disciple-makers.
I take this role seriously. I am consistently thinking how I can encourage people around me to be better at what they do. Several years ago, with another staff, someone who once worked with me mentioned my intentionality in developing leaders on his blog. (Read his post HERE.) Thanks, Adam – miss you, buddy!
Here’s my theory on the subject.
Many leaders limit their capacity as a leader, because they try to do too much on their own. Rather than develop people, they control people. Rather than growing the organization, they only grow their personal workload. In the end, under this type scenario, everyone loses. The leader burns out, potential leaders are never developed, and the organization fails to be all it could be.
If you want to increase productivity as a leader, you have to think bigger than what you can do. In fact, I would say, you have to change your title roles.
To increase productivity and get better as a leader:
Change from being a manager of people to being a leader of people.
Don’t just manage current systems. Lead people to greater realities than they can imagine today. Don’t rule by policies. Free people to explore, create, and imagine. (And, in turn perhaps even make a ton of mistakes.)
Change from being a doer of tasks to being an encourager of doers.
Make it your ambition to encourage people everyday. Be a people builder. I find my best energies are spent away from my desk and in the halls or other offices. When I invest in others everything grows around me.
Change from being a list keeper to being a chief supporter of list keepers.
I love lists! I live by them. But, you can’t be a great senior leader and only manage your own. This would be the easy way – but the least productive way. Instead, you should help people develop their own lists – their dreams – the things they want to accomplish. Encourage. Empower. Celebrate.
Change from completer of tasks to being an investor in people who complete tasks.
Again, my best time is away from my desk. Like anyone I can get very tied to my desk, my email, and my own tasks. I have learned I can spend a little more time investing in people and the results return exponentially.
Change from being an implementer to being an enabler for people to implement.
The less “hands on” I am the more our team seems to get done. When I try to help I often get in the way. This doesn’t mean I do nothing. I often take orders from people on our team as to what I should do. It does mean, though, I try very hard not to get in their way.
These are not a play on words. They are intended to be a change in perspective. And, again, please understand, these are also not an excuse to do nothing. The attempt is working smarter. It’s making an intentional decision to develop others.
It boils down to believing in the purpose and power of delegating, learning how to delegate properly, and actually letting go. For more on delegating, see HERE and the related posts.
If you are struggling to complete all required of you as a leader, in my experience, it will almost always have more to do with how well you do in this area of your leadership. And, for those who are wondering, this is regardless of whether your team is paid or volunteer.